When you want to quote someone else’s words in something you’re writing (such as a blog post), it’s important to mark it clearly so that it’s obvious they are not your own words. The most important reason for doing so is to protect yourself against accusations of plagiarism. Whenever you include anyone else’s creative work in something you are creating – whether it’s text, photos, diagrams, code or something else – you must make it clear that it’s not your own work and give credit to the original creator. In general, it’s also very important to make it crystal clear exactly which parts of your document were created by someone else.
When you want to include a short quote in your document, the best way to do it is to enclose the quoted words in inverted commas, format them in italics and place them inline with your own text. You should also give credit to the author you’re quoting and provide a reference or link to their document if possible, which you can do in your own words at the point where you include the quote.
For example, if I was writing about a dystopian future in which robots have turned on their human creators, I might write something like the following…
In his 1942 short story “Runaround”, Isaac Asimov introduced his highly influential Three Laws of Robotics, the first of which states that “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” This law supercedes the second and third laws which oblige robots to obey orders from humans and to protect themselves.
When you include a longer quote in something you’re writing (say, longer than one or two sentences), it’s better to include it as a blockquote (also known as a block quotation) which makes it stand out even more clearly from your own text. Like inline quotes, a blockquote should be enclosed in inverted commas and formatted in italics. However, it should also be indented from the normal margin and separated from the preceding and following paragraphs by a little space, so that it stands out from your own text. Blockquotes provide a very useful means of legitimately including relevant sections from other documents which you might struggle to explain more clearly in your own words. However, they should not be overused and the quoted passages generally should not be more than a few paragraphs in length – i.e. don’t just use this to paste in several pages of someone else’s text – that’s usually pointless!
The following example of a blockquote consists of a short extract from Section 8.2 of the dsPIC30F4011 datasheet which explains the role of the ADPCFG and TRIS registers in configuring the A/D port pins.
“The use of the ADPCFG and TRIS registers control the operation of the A/D port pins. The port pins that are desired as analog inputs must have their corresponding TRIS bit set (input). If the TRIS bit is cleared (output), the digital output level (VOH or VOL) will be converted.”
To include the blockquote above in this WordPress post, I used the “blockquote” HTML tags. To see how it’s done, look at the following screenshot which shows how it appeared when I was editing it:
Note that the editor is in “Text” mode rather than “Visual” mode. When you are editing your post, to ensure you are in “Text” mode, click the text tab at the top right corner of the text editing box.